Many people plan their estates diligently, with input from legal, tax, and financial professionals. Others plan earnestly but make mistakes that can potentially affect both the transfer and destiny of family wealth. Here are some common and not-so-common errors to avoid.
While you could write your own will or create a will, it can be risky to do so. Sometimes simplicity has a price. Look at the example of Aretha Franklin. The “Queen of Soul’s” estate, valued at $80 million, may be divided under a handwritten or “holographic” will. Her wills were discovered among her personal effects. Assuming that the will is authentic, it will be probated under Michigan law, but such unwitnessed documents are not necessarily legally binding.
Relatively few estate plans are reviewed over time. Any major life event should prompt you to review your will, trust, or other estate planning documents. So should a major life event that affects one of your beneficiaries.
Trust administration is not for everyone. Some people lack the interest, the time, or the understanding it requires, and others balk at the responsibility and potential liability. A co-trustee also introduces the potential for conflict.
While you may not want to explicitly reveal who will get what prior to your passing, your heirs should understand the purpose and intentions at the heart of your estate planning. If you want to distribute more of your wealth to one child than another, write a letter to be presented after your death that explains your reasoning. Make a list of which heirs will receive collectibles or heirlooms. If your family has some issues, this may go a long way toward reducing squabbles as well as the possibility of legal costs eating up some of this-or-that heir’s inheritance.
Through a simple, one-sentence title change, a married couple can fund a revocable trust with their primary residence. As an example, if a couple retitles their home from “Heather and Michael Smith, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” to “Heather and Michael Smith, Trustees of the Smith Revocable Trust dated (month)(day), (year).” They are free to retitle myriad other assets in the trust’s name.
Very few people consider this possibility when creating a will or trust, but it does happen. A caregiver harboring a hidden agenda may exploit a loved one to the point where they revise estate planning documents for the caregiver’s financial benefit.
The best estate plans are clear in their language, clear in their intentions, and updated as life events demand. They are overseen through the years with care and scrutiny, reflecting the magnitude of the transfer of significant wealth.
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) announced that tax season will start a little later than usual. This year the I.R.S. will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax filing returns on Friday, February 12, 2021.1
What is a 1099 form? This is a record of payment from an individual or entity, showing a payment, generated for your records. The individual/entity sends a copy to both the payee as well as the I.R.S.1 Who might be sending 1099s? Clients send their contractors 1099s, recording work performed. Banks send 1099s to reflect … Continue reading “1099 Form Help”
When you think about your estate, you may think about your personal property, real estate, or investments. You also have other, less-tangible assets – and they deserve your attention as well. We consider these your digital assets. A digital footprint of your life – and you need to consider them within your estate planning.
Pursuing your retirement dreams is challenging enough without making some common, and very avoidable, mistakes. Here are eight big mistakes to steer clear of, if possible. No Strategy. Yes, the biggest mistake is having no strategy at all. Without a strategy, you may have no goals, leaving you no way of knowing how you’ll get … Continue reading “Eight Retirement Mistakes to Avoid”
When you lose a spouse, partner, or parent, the grief can be overwhelming. In the midst of that grief, life goes on. There are arrangements to be made, things to be taken care of – and in recognition of this reality, here is a checklist that you may find useful at such a time. If … Continue reading “Estate Planning Checklist for When a Spouse or Parent Passes”
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